Why You Need a Will

December 8, 2004

If you think wills are only for the rich, you’re wrong. A will is an essential part of any estate plan. It is the primary document for transferring your wealth upon your death. If you die without a will, (intestate) state law controls the disposition of your property. Without a will, settling most estates is more troublesome and more costly. And, if you already have a will, you may need to make some changes to it. People’s lives are rarely static and changes should be reflected in your will. There are many critical elements of an effective will, but here are three major provisions that your will should include: Guardian for your children – this deserves a lot of thought; name someone whose ideas on raising children are similar to yours. Also, be sure the person is willing to accept the responsibility. Creation of Trusts – All a will can do is direct the disposition of your estate. To accomplish longer term goals, such as funding a child’s education or providing for a disabled relative, you must include instructions for the creation of trusts. Naming an executor – your executor is your personal representative after your death and has several major responsibilities, including administering and distributing assets to your beneficiaries, making tax decisions, paying any debts or expenses, ensuring life insurance benefits are received and filing the necessary tax returns and paying the federal and state taxes.